A decline in an employee’s performance, however small, means that your organisation is not running to its normal standards. When the dip in performance hits an unacceptable level, the matter will need to be addressed in order to a) prevent it from getting any worse; and b) eventually restore it to an acceptable level.

Here are some tips to help you deal with this situation where your employee’s capability is in question.

Speak to the employee
Once any problems are identified which you feel need addressing, speak informally to the employee to let them know you have some concerns that they are not working to their full capacity, whether that be in quality or amount of work required.

Identify the cause
Listen to the responses given by the employee and use these to determine what you feel to the cause of the decline. It is important to clarify whether it is in reality the capability of the employee is affecting their performance. If it is in fact the conduct of the employee, where they have willingly chosen to break the rules, then a different procedure will need to be implemented.

Try the informal approach
First attempt to resolve the problem informally, by making the employee aware that they are not meeting the required standards and that you will put measures in place to help them achieve their former performance. This will involve you ensuring that adequate training or supervision is put in place to help the employee. The employee should be given time to adjust.

Invite to a formal meeting
If the informal approach does not have the desired effect, or if matters are too serious to try the informal route initially, a formal procedure should be started. This involves writing to the employee to let them know they should attend a meeting to discuss their performance. You should, at the same time, let the employee have copies of any documentation that you will produce at the meeting. Remind the employee of their right to be accompanied at this meeting.

Hold the meeting
During the meeting, you should put your concerns to the employee and allow them to set out their defence.

Decide on action
If formal action is required, a warning should be issued to the employee. If the dip in performance is due to new technology being introduced which the employee has not got a hang of, then you could arrange for further training. Perhaps allow the employee to shadow another employee for a while so they can see how the new computer system or machinery works properly. Alternatively, an external refresher training session on new equipment may be necessary. It may be the case that closer supervision, with daily or weekly meetings to review performance, may help the employee feel more supported. Agree a timetable for improvement with the employee and advise of the consequences should the employee not improve.

Offer the right of appeal
Once a sanction has been given, the employee should always be given the right of appeal. An appeal hearing should be heard if an appeal is made.

Repeat the process
If performance does not improve despite the extra measures in place, another formal hearing should be arranged, resulting in the next level of warning if appropriate.

Obtain medical evidence
If the capability issues are related to illness or injury, medical evidence should be sought to provide the employer with as much information as possible regarding the severity and longer term prospects relating to the employee’s condition. Reasonable adjustments to the employee’s role may need to be considered.

Suitable alternative work
If the employee’s performance still does not improve, the employer should attempt to see whether there are any other suitable roles for the employee before dismissal is considered. 

For any further help on the issue above please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.